A friend of mine told me a good story :

"If I ask you to empty a vehicle, how long do you think it'll take you?"
"I don't know, maybe 20 minutes"
/* Goes and comes back the next morning */
"Okay, so I said to family X that you'll move all the furniture from their truck to their 5th floor new apartment by 10h20. There is no lift but that's just a detail for someone as work driven as you are, right?"

It happens a lot in IT and probably in a lot of other fields too. I'm not sure how this technique is called.

In IT they took it even further where you're not the only one estimating your own tasks but all the developers of the project estimate the task for you, bragging proudly about how fast they would (supposedly) finish it. It's called "poker planning".

Estimating the deadline like this is just wrong as anything can happen. You could get injured by a piano falling on your feet, the doors to the building can be blocked for 1 hour by a fire alarm, you could break a vase by accident and need to repair it.


There is also the story of the painter, by Paul Cunningham : [Full story here : https://paulcunningham.me/overtime-on-call-and-the-myth-of-the-it-hero/ ]

Imagine a painter hired to paint your employer's offices. The job should take five days, and the painter will get paid $5000 to cover materials, their time, and some profit.

The painter spends the week painting. On Friday the employer says, “Actually we've got a whole other floor that needs painting by Monday. So we need you to stay and keep painting.”

What do you think the painter is going to do in that situation? If they were like many IT professionals they would keep working through the weekend to finish the job. They'd work long hours, and work as fast as possible. And they wouldn't charge any more than the original $5000.


The boss would say "I need this room painted before Monday, I promised X it would be done, you said you'll be done, we all need it painted before Monday, we all relied on you. You like painting, it's your thing, so it should take you a couple hours anyway, I believe in you, you're our wonder-boy!"

This happened to me mostly in Start-ups. A combination of belittling the worker's job and blaming the worker for commitments he didn't make.

By being a freelancer I'm counting on being able to put a limit to this. Every time I hear a client/salesman say

"So we pay you {amount of money} for you to finish {tasks} before {deadline}."

I reply

"No, you pay me {amount of money} per hour of my time and skill that I will dedicate to work on {tasks} and if everything goes well I think it will be done by {deadline}".

The 2 sentences are very similar but the small changes are very important.

[This article is part of the Why remote freelancer? serie]

[This article is the last of the Why remote freelancer? serie, thank you for reading it !]